116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — The Coralville City Council is moving forward with filling its council vacancy by appointment and is now accepting applications from interested residents.
The council voted 3-1 Tuesday in favor of a resolution to appoint someone to fill the vacancy rather than hold a special election. Council member Mitch Gross, who voted against the resolution, expressed reservations about appointing a replacement.
During a work session earlier this month, council members weighed whether to hold a special election or appoint a replacement. The council ultimately decided to go the appointment route because it would fill the vacancy faster and not have a cost attached. Gross was absent from the work session discussion.
The appointee will succeed council member Jill Dodds, who resigned in April. Dodds, a council member for a decade, resigned at the mayor’s request following the arrest of Dodds’ husband on a child sexual abuse charge.
The vacant seat’s term runs through December 2023. Whoever is appointed would serve up until the November 2023 election when whoever wins the election would be seated.
Voters can still petition for the city to hold a special election.
Residents have 14 days to file a petition with at least 396 signatures. The notice of appointment was published on May 25, which gives the public until June 8 to file a petition.
If no petition is filed, the council will move forward with appointment.
“There are still options for the public to weigh in,” Mayor Meghann Foster said about the petition for a special election. "It's not just us having the final say. The public will always have the final say.“
How to apply
The application is now available on the city’s website. Applications are due to the city clerk by noon June 3.
Those applying must be current residents of Coralville and over 18 years of age.
The mayor and city council members will conduct interviews of all applicants on June 9 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1512 Seventh St.
The council is expected to consider an appointment at its June 14 meeting, with the candidate taking office upon approval.
Council members are paid $5,312 annually. More information about the application can be found on the city’s website.
Council wants open process
Foster said she wants a transparent process for appointment, including holding the interviews during a public meeting with the full council.
“We have to be very clear about what that process is, making sure that it is as transparent as possible,” Foster said.
Council member Mike Knudson said money and timing are part of why he is in favor of appointment. Appointment does not have a cost, while a special election could be between $20,000 and $25,000, Auditor Travis Weipert previously told council members.
Weipert told the council the soonest a special election could be held is Aug. 16.
Gross brought up concerns if the person appointed runs again, saying having advantage of incumbency would be unfair to others running. Foster agreed, saying individuals should be asked if they intend to run again.
“I know that we cannot write in the stipulation that the appointed individual does not run again, but I would advocate that it should factor heavily into our decision making,” Foster said.
Gross also brought up how the council held a special election in 2020 to fill a vacancy with a shorter term than the one currently being discussed.
Council member Hai Huynh said it’s not lost on her that she was first elected to council by special election. Huynh won the special election in 2020 and was reelected to her first full term last year.
Huynh also emphasized transparency in the appointment process and said it will be a way for the council to fill the vacancy faster, as well as avoid the possibility of not having a quorum to do business.
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